OTD: Bank of Canada Currency Museum opens in Ottawa

On today’s date in 1980, the Bank of Canada Currency Museum (now the Bank of Canada Museum) opened its doors to the public at the bank’s newly expanded head office on 234 Wellington St., in Ottawa.

The museum has been closed for renovations since July 2013, but it will re-open next year as the Bank of Canada Museum, which is “very different” from the former Currency Museum, said museum writer Graham Iddon in a blog post entitled “Why We are Not the Currency Museum,” published Dec. 1.

“We were first called the Currency Museum because we highlighted the National Currency Collection (NCC)—an extensive international collection and the most complete collection of Canadian currency in the world. It was, and is, a public collection as well as an effective educational tool. Building a museum to display and interpret it seemed only natural,” writes Iddon. “Why we are no longer the Currency Museum is a more complicated issue.”

Following a magnitude 5.0 earthquake that hit Central Canada in 2010, there was an opportunity to “re‑build (and reimagine)” the museum that was established when the central bank’s head office was first built in the 1970s. Until a few years before it closed for renovations, the Currency Museum belonged to the bank’s currency department; however, it now belongs to the communications department—a “crucial factor” changed the museum’s mission.

“Here was an opportunity to develop an extraordinary outreach tool to help educate Canadians about what the Bank does,” writes Iddon, who suggests reading the museum’s mission statement: “To creatively bring the work of the Bank of Canada to Canadians by demystifying the Bank’s key functions and interpreting Canada’s monetary heritage; and to provide access to the National Currency Collection.”

The new Bank of Canada Museum will be located beneath the plaza at the corner of Bank Street and Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa. The museum’s new mandate is to provide Canadians with a public space where they are encouraged to learn about the bank’s policies and functions as well as its role in guiding the Canadian economy.

Although it won’t be a currency museum when it opens next year, the National Currency Collection “will not be taking a back seat,” writes Iddon.

The collection will be displayed around “most of the outside perimeter of the new galleries” with nearly 1,400 artifacts alongside more than 20,000 words of support copy.

The museum is projected to meet its 2017 opening date.

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